Perfectly timed, this meeting came right after the end of the first phase of the Brussels based share of the project’s activities which included testing several temporary solutions, analysing the baseline and business-as-usual practices and data and looking at potential improvements. The meeting was also a proof that the motivation the Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA) has and the efforts they are putting into this project pay off and could end in some remarkable changes in the near future. Regarding ACR+, the Brussels based network of local and regional authorities, it was a pleasure to see the recognition of joint forces in improving the environmental performances of football games which came in form of this meeting.

Mr Hellings, who is at the same time the city’s alderman for sports and environment, got acquainted with two important outcomes and results which marked the end of the initial assessment phase and which already laid down the basis for future improvements. One of them is the waste analysis which was done by FostPlus, a Belgian organisation which promotes efficient packaging management. This analysis looked at the composition of waste which is generated during a football game and gave valuable insight in occurrences, tendencies and prevailing types of waste both outside and inside the stadium’s perimeter, including total amounts of generated waste. These findings should show the way forward in introducing separate collection inside the stadium’s perimeter which currently doesn’t exist, as well as potential “zero waste” practices. Since the stadium belongs to the city of Brussels and RBFA is only renting it for organising the home games of the Belgian national team a very close collaboration is necessary between the city and RBFA in order to provide infrastructure necessary for the implementation and application of new practices.

The second valuable input for future improvements come from a survey which was set up by ACR+ and disseminated by RBFA and the Red Devils 1895 Fan Club and which was conducted over a 4 weeks’ period. The objective of the survey was to assess fans’ habits and their everyday environmental performances, namely in the fields of waste management and mobility as well as to investigate their willingness to align with potential improvements and their willingness to participate in them. Such a survey was proven to be an essential step in this phase as it would give some indicators for what improvements would make sense and would meet the needs of fans and solve some of the challenges they are facing when attending games. The findings seemed to be very interesting for Mr Hellings, as well, as some of them confirmed the need of certain improvements the city already had in mind but also made the vice-mayor think about additional improvements. In general, the fans recognise the need for improvements in the environmental management of football games and they seem to be ready to adhere to future changes and improvements – whether in order to decrease their environmental impact or making their visit to the stadium more pleasant and easier.

The general conclusions and key notes from the meeting are very reassuring as Mr Hellings promised increased support and engagement in what would the project bring to Brussels in 2020. He also accepted the invitation to the LIFE TACKLE project’s mid-term conference on 3 March in Brussels where he will participate as a speaker in one of the panels.